Two cats from a shelter in West Virginia recently made their way to their new home in New Brunswick by way of Maine, thanks to the help of dozens of volunteer drivers.
Dubbed “Operation Miracle Manx,” the Manx cats’ 1,100-mile journey was made possible with the help of members of the Web site www.caster.com, which included Bangor residents Robin Pinkham, 44, and her husband, Chris Olsen, 45.
“It was so rewarding,” Pinkham wrote in an e-mail to the Bangor Daily News. “We were the last leg, and my husband and I had the honor of seeing the excitement in the face of the new owner when she first saw her new companions.”
On July 22, Pinkham and Olsen drove Jasper, a 4-month-old kitten, and his mother, Jillian, a 1-year-old cat, from Waterville to Houlton, where the felines’ new owner, 53-year-old Sally Holland of Fredericton, New Brunswick, was waiting.
Pinkham and Olsen got involved in the effort when Pinkham saw Holland’s July 12 posting on the “Catster Railroad” forum on the Catster Web site.
Holland desperately wanted to adopt the two cats – which are a special breed she could not find locally – but she was unable to make a trip to Parkersburg, W.Va., to collect them. The shelter was about to euthanize Jillian, Holland said in an interview Sunday.
“They [the shelter] mentioned the possibility of volunteer transport, which I had never heard of before,” Holland said.
Volunteer transport involves people who are willing to drive a leg of the pet’s journey and then hand the pet to the next driver.
Eventually, the pet makes it home. In this case, the shelter was willing to drive Jasper and Jillian to Carlisle, Pa., but Holland had to arrange the rest of the transport herself.
So Holland turned to Catster, a 130,000-member Web site for cat lovers who use the site for advice, social networking and to create Web page profiles for their pets. She also found help through the Maine Coon Cat Rescue and the Humane Society in Parkersburg.
The volunteer transport effort took e-mails, phone calls and messages posted on Catster “too numerous to count, prayers more than there are stars in the universe,” Holland said.
After two failed attempts in early and mid-July, Holland’s team of 15 kind Internet strangers successfully executed “Operation Miracle Manx.”
Holland credits Pinkham with taking on a significant portion of the organization efforts.
“Time was running out, and Robin understood what pressure I was under to save the lives of Jasper and Jillian,” Holland said.